We admitted we were powerless over food,
that our lives had become unmanageable.


I am Cindi L and I became a compulsive overeater on September 20, 1969. Yes, I know the exact date because I know the event that led to my disease being activated physically. The emotional and spiritual sides of the disease came soon after that event. It was six weeks before my eighteenth birthday and I was a bridesmaid in my cousin's wedding. My first time as a bridesmaid and all dressed up in a beautiful gown with hair and makeup to match. Since I was shortly to be eighteen, it was decided by my father that I could take a drink. I did.

At the reception I took one drink, and I liked that effect so much I took another and another and another. Soon I was very drunk and passed out and became very ill. That introduction to alcohol set off something deep within me. I believe it was some sort of chemical reaction because the next thing I know, I cannot get enough sugar products.

Up until this time I had never been overweight, never had a problem with food and didn't know what in the world was wrong with me. Neither did anyone else. I couldn't stop eating; and because I couldn't stop eating, I gained fifteen pounds in six weeks. All my clothes were too tight and I was so embarrassed and so ashamed of how I looked. Then I began to isolate from all my beloved activities. Id been a very active teenager in school, 4-H and church. My friends were hurt when I refused to go anywhere or do anything. The more I ate, the more I wanted to eat. The more I wanted to eat, the more I wanted to stay at home and have everyone just leave me alone! Eventually, they did. I spent the next thirty-five years of my life under the obsession of food, isolating from anyone and everyone.

My first experience with OA was a meeting where God was frequently mentioned. Since I am not a religious person, I left thinking these people were religious freaks. I wanted to lose weight, not find God. A few years passed,a few more added pounds and a lot more unhappiness sent me back to give OA another chance. This time around I stayed for about a year. I was going to meetings, listening to shares and sharing myself, reading literature and doing some minor service work. I thought I was working the program, but I did not understand why the program was not working for me. Look at all I was doing in program and yet nothing much was happening for me. So I left again, not giving OA another try for twenty years.

I was drifting through life without any goals, just simply existing. This continued until January of 2002 when I came back to OA at the age of 50, unemployed with a high school education, and weighing 300 pounds. Let me tell you that NO ONE wants to hire a 50-year-old fat woman with little education. So I had to do something and OA was it. This was my third try at OA and I began to understand what was needed to have recovery in a 12-Step program. First of all, I actually had to work the Steps. This was something I had not done in my second go-around with OA simply because fear held me back. On my third try I became more willing to do things the OA way because I was so desperate. The group said to get a sponsor. I got one. The group said to work the Steps. I did. The group said to use the 8 Tools of OA on a daily basis. I did. Day in and day out, I worked the program of OA and managed to stay abstinent for a full year. Then came the holidays and my disease whispered in my ear, "Time to celebrate. You have been abstinent a full year now. You know how to work program. This time you can handle sugar. Go ahead, eat." And I did!

It took me another eighteen months of on again/off again abstinence and working the program before I received my miracle that began my journey to good recovery. I would go four or five days abstinent and then Bam! Off again to sugarland. To give myself credit, I never stopped working program. I continued working through the Step questions in the workbook and I continued using the 8 Tools of OA. I continued working program whether I wanted to or not, whether I was abstinent or not. It paid off.

On June 1st, 2004 I received my miracle of abstinence, a gift for giving up self-will and putting my life in the care of a power greater than myself. Since that day, I have been free of cravings, free of binging and free of obsessive food thoughts. I am also 89 pounds lighter; but more important, I have peace of mind and serenity of soul. The promises of OA are slowly coming true for me. I am becoming the person that I have always wanted to be.

I am so grateful that I can be here with you today. Never give up until you find your own miracle!

Love in recovery,
Cindi L

What are the promises of working a 12 Step program? "If we are painstaking about this phase of our development, we will be amazed before we are halfway through. We are going to know a new freedom and a new happiness. We will not regret the past nor wish to shut the door on it. We will comprehend the word serenity and we will know peace. No matter how far down the scale we have gone, we will see how our experience can benefit others. That feelings of uselessness and self pity will disappear. We will lose interest in selfish things and gain interest in our fellows. Self-seeking will slip away. Our whole attitude and outlook upon life will change. Fear of people and of economic insecurity will leave us. We will intuitively know how to handle situations which used to baffle us. We will suddenly realize that God is doing for us what we could not do for ourselves.

Are these extravagant promises? We think not. They are being fulfilled among us-sometimes quickly, sometimes slowly. They will always materialize if we work for them."

Big Book of Alcoholic Anonymous: Page 83 & 84 (Fourth Edition)


My share on Step One:

OA is the first place where I understood that I have a disease of addiction. Yes, I am an addict. I am physically addicted to sugar and dependent on white flour and large volumes of food. When I ingest sugar, it sets off the phenomenon of craving which will not subside until I eat more sugar. The relief is extremely short as I will need another fix as soon as the first one wears off. I turned to white flour for my comfort foods, and I used volume to push down all those painful feelings I did not want to face in life. I kept this up for thirty-five years of my adult life, never understanding why I could not eat normally like the rest of my family. I thought there was something wrong with me, that I was to blame for not being able to eat like everyone else. I felt that I had done something wrong in my past and this is how I was being punished.

When OA said I had an actual disease, I felt relief. It was not my fault! I was not to blame! Since I have a disease of addiction and it is not curable, I am not in control of my overeating. I no longer have that responsibility. In effect, I am powerless over my consumption of food. I have been since that terrible night in 1969.

How was my life unmanageable? When I came to OA on my third try, I weighed 300 pounds, had diabetes and high blood pressure, along with the aches and pains of the severely obese. Two relationships with other people had ended, one in divorce and one in abandonment. Basically I lived in seclusion, isolated from the rest of the world, only appearing when it was time to go to work. My life was work, eat, television and sleep. I didn't go anywhere and I didn't do much of anything. My feelings about myself as a person were riddled with insecurity, fear, depression and a sense of hopelessness.

Am I powerless over my food and has my life become unmanageable? YES! Admitting that is what saved me from continuing to waste my life with this disease of addiction. Because I am able to face the truth of my addiction over food and how it was destroying my life, I am now able to work the 12-step program of OA and change my life for the better. Are you ready to change yours?

Love in recovery,

Cindi L

The First Step Prayer

Today, I ask for help with my addiction. Denial has kept me from seeing how powerless I am and how my life is unmanageable. I need to learn and remember that I have an incurable illness and that abstinence is the only way to deal with it. Amen

Principle of Step One

In Step One we learn the principle of honesty as we admit our personal powerlessness over food, and the fact that without help we cannot successfully manage our own lives. Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions page 103.


To help comprehend the questions, please read The Twelve Steps and Twelve Traditions of OA. Read the first chapter on Step One, then answer the questions, go back and reread the Step One chapter and add on to your answers if needed.

It is a good idea to read the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous to understand the concept of addiction. Pay particular attention to the chapters: A Doctor's Opinion, There is a Solution and More on Alcoholism.


1. What is the first step inventory of my compulsive overeating and/or anorexia and/or bulimia? (You should do a history of your eating disorder in detail. When it began, how it progressed and where in life it led you. Include other solutions tried and particular foods that give you trouble.)

2. How do my food behaviors affect me physically, emotionally and spiritually?

3. Am I in touch with my feelings? Do I experience anger, fear, pain? Am I able to express feelings of happiness, contentment or serenity?

4. How is my life unmanageable? Do I have any health problems? Relationship problems? Financial problems? Job problems?

5. Am I able to be honest with the problems food causes me? Am I interested in program as a way of life? Am I ready to change and to learn?


Suggestions that may help you with this step study: Realize that no one is telling you what to do in program. Whatever directions you receive, they are suggestions only and it is up to you whether you follow through or not. We each work our own individual programs. My sponsor lovingly reminds me that a suggestion is like telling a person jumping from a plane they MAY need a parachute. So, keeping that in mind, it is suggested that you:

1. Find a sponsor, if you do not already have one, to help guide you and to listen to you while you are working through the steps and beyond. When sending in your answers to the step questions, send a copy to your sponsor also. If you do not have a sponsor, you will find directions in getting a sponsor at this link:

2. This is an excellent chance to do your 90 meetings in 90 days while also working through the steps in 90 days. When I first became abstinent, the 90 & 90 suggestion really helped support me through those first fragile days.

3. Get a copy of the Big Book of Alcoholics Anonymous along with The Twelve Steps & Twelve Traditions of OA. Both will be a huge benefit to you. To get a copy, visit or visit your local face to face meeting.

4. Keep on file your answers to all step questions, as you will need to refer back to them in Steps Five through Nine.

5. Remember, you are not alone in this. Reach out to other members and your sponsor to help you through difficult sharing.

6. If you have a question, please type in the subject line of your reply: "Question" and I will try to answer as soon as possible. Thank you!


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